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Smith Act,1940, passed by the U.S. Congress as the Alien Registration Act of 1940. The act, which made it an offense to advocate or belong to a group that advocated the violent overthrow of the government, was the basis of later prosecutions of members of the Communist and Socialist Workers parties. In 1957 the U.S. Supreme Court restricted the application of the Smith Act to instances of active participation in, or verbal encouragement of, specific insurrectionary activities.
(also Alien Registration Act), an act passed by the Congress of the USA on June 28, 1940; named for H. Smith, the congressman who introduced the measure. The Smith Act made it a crime to advocate or teach the duty, necessity, or propriety of overthrowing the government by force or violence. When the act was passed it was assumed that it would be used against agents of fascist governments in the USA. However, after World War II (1939–45) it was used against members of the Communist Party. From 1948 to 1955 the Smith Act, along with the McCarran Act of 1950 and other antidemocratic laws, was used as the grounds for 18 trials of leaders of the Communist Party. Many of them were sentenced to long terms in prison solely on the basis of their Marxist views. In 1957 the Supreme Court of the USA set limits to the range of application of the Smith Act. [23–1830–]